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Datanets: a streamlined replacement for SS13 radio signalling
SS13's legacy radio signalling works by simulating an actual data transfer network by sending "packets" (signals) of generic data via a global controller. Data transfer happens independently through generic interfaces which are fairly extensible with the actual processing of data signals handled separately by the end atoms. The transmission of radio signals operates across multiple process steps so immersion breaking artificial communication lag is introduced. To my knowledge, the only systems in SS13 using radio signalling are airlocks, some atmospherics things, bombs, and some of the underlying code for telecommunications (radio comms).

While this system is fairly robust and feature complete, it is also overly complex and time consuming to setup and produces some in-world conflicts with overmap (the global controller means there are no restrictions for distance, and there is no handling for interference or jamming). On the whole it's quite powerful but I never liked using it due to those over-complexities and the transmission lag.

I've experimented with replacement systems in the past for other projects, but now I've decided to develop a replacement system integrated directly into overmap called datanets. They are prototyped right now with airlocks and will attempt to emulate a P2P network topology (any device can communicate with any other device and there is no "master controller" except for a coordinator datum for handling meta aspects such as data transfer and machine linking/delinking). The idea is that the datanet simply determines whether and what is connected in a super light framework, then any data transfer or processing is handled fully by the participating atoms. It's not as robust as signalling networks under the hood but should be able to produce the same functionality with a significantly decreased workload for mappers and coders.

SS13 radio signalling networks have multiple steps to do, requiring a frequency to be set for all participating atoms then unique tags for each assigned and linked manually via the map editor. Datanet airlocks only need a single tag set for all participating atoms in that net to be set (along with a small amount of metadata) to be set via the map editor.

For the moment radio signalling will exist alongside datanets and they can both be used as normal (I manually integrated radio telecommunications into the overmap several months ago so that it behaves as expected) although they won't need or be required to communicate. Eventually I'd like to completely replace everything using radio signalling with datanets, then remove radio signalling entirely. The change should be invisible to players, but make maintenance + development + extension of the features much easier in the long run.

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